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RC44s revving engines on first visit to Galicia

Racing sets sail tomorrow for four days at the 44Cup Baiona, the first time the high performance owner-driver one design class has visited this northwest region of Spain.

In the Galician port, the RC44 fleet is racing out of the prestigious Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona (MRCYB), whose clubhouse is situated within the heavily crenelated walls of the 14th century Monterreal Castle.

Nine RC44s will be competing. After his family’s marina in Lanzarote hosted the opening event of the 2024 44Cup, Daniel Calero’s Calero Sailing Team will again be racing the circuit’s Black Boat Project. This the class makes available to teams aspiring to join the circuit.

Who will come out on top this week is anyone’s guess. At the opening event of the 2024 44Cup it was Team Nika which won from Team Ceeref Vaider and Peninsula Racing. Vladimir Prosikhin’s team was originally dominant in the mid-2010s when they finally broke Chris Bake and Team Aqua’s strangle hold on the class, winning the 2015 44Cup and three World Championship titles, but subsequently their performance took a slight downturn. The team’s present return to form is thought to have been set in motion by tactician Francesco Bruni before he disappeared on America’s Cup duty after the 44Cup Oman at the end of 2022 (the last event Team Nika won before Lanzarote this year) and then continued with her present tactician, British former 470 World Champion Nic Asher. For this season they have two new crew in the form of Estonian grinder Taavi Taveter and Australian offside trimmer Harry Hall.

“It’s getting better,” muses Prosikhin. “The boat feels good – the crew is stable, which is important and we have two young guys who bring a lot of fresh energy. We are no longer a team of men in their 50s (and I am even older!) So the fresh blood is very very good. It was a very good move by the class to bring in younger people and women – a positive dynamic.”

44Cup Baiona practice - photo © Nico Martinez / 44Cup
44Cup Baiona practice – photo © Nico Martinez / 44Cup

For Prosikhin, like most of the owners, it is his first time to Baiona. “This place is amazing and the road from Porto was very nice. I expected something simple, but when I came here it was…’wow’.”

Black Star Sailing Team’s Christian Zuerrer is also impressed with the beauty of the area, part of Galacia’s Rías Baixas estuary complex. Baiona is situated on the south side of the mouth of the Vigo river, with the Cíes Islands nature reserve and national park is situated just north of the race. “It’s nice: We’re living in a castle here which was built in 1725!” As to his Swiss team’s prospects he adds: “The team is going well. We have the same crew and I am looking forward to taking another step forward.” A recent addition, recruited to trim main sheet, is Will Ryan, the reining 470 Olympic gold medallist.

This season the 2024 44Cup champions, Nico Poons’ Charisma, have American Andy Horton as tactician. Their season got off to a strong start in Lanzarote, winning the first race of that event but ultimately they ended up a disappointing sixth overall. Also in the mix again is Hugues Lepic’s French team, Aleph Racing, which once again has standing in on the helm, the young Pietro Loro Piana, nephew of the well-known Italian maxi yacht owner Pier Luigi Loro Piana.

44Cup Baiona practice - photo © Nico Martinez / 44Cup
44Cup Baiona practice – photo © Nico Martinez / 44Cup

John Bassadone’s Peninsula Racing was a worthy third in Lanzarote and is a team to watch here. In addition to having local A Coruña born Mikel Pasabant as offside trimmer, tactician Vasco Vascotto feels at home in Baiona. In his youth he raced a Quarter Tonner here and even won an ILC30 World Championship on these waters. “There is something magical here,” he says. “We are sleeping in the castle (Monterreal Castle hosts the MRCYB, but mainly houses one of Spain’s state-owned Paradores hotels). The yacht club is very special…and the seafood!” Vascotto adds that the place also reminds him the abdicated Spanish monarch, King Juan Carlo I, with whom he often raced. “This place is magic and is one of his favourite places to sail. We did plenty of regattas together. I always considered him the King of the Sailors…”

As to Peninsula Racing’s prospects, they continue to make forward progress, says Vascotto: “I think we are growing at every single event a little more. We were down for a couple of years, but we are improving again and feel very competitive. We are confident we are making good progress.”

Chris Bake’s Team Aqua is also never to be discounted and in Lanzarote finished strongly, winning two out of three races on the final day while Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing once again has 44Cup season winning tactician Hamish Pepper calling the shots on board here.

The forecast has the opening day of racing tomorrow being light but with the wind building into the mid-teens from the northeast on Friday and backing into the northwest potentially building further over the weekend.

Racing starts tomorrow at 1200.

44CUP Overall Ranking 2024: (after one event)

1. Team Nika – 1pt
2. Team CEEREF Vaider – 2pts
3. Peninsula Racing – 3pts
4. Team Aqua – 4pts
5. Aleph Racing – 5pts
6. Charisma – 6pts
7. Black Star Sailing Team – 7pts
8. Artemis Racing – 8pts
9. Calero Sailing Team – 9pts

by 44Cup

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